Dirty Face Peak

Janet and I headed east this day. We met in Monroe at 7:00 am. It was Mothers Day and we expected light traffic. Ridiculously light was more like it. I passed a car in the passing lane east of Gold Bar. That was it. Nobody else ahead or behind me from Monroe to the highway rest stop near Coles Corner. We were the only car at the rest stop. We turned off Highway 2 at Coles Corner and cruised around Lake Wenatchee to the old Ranger Station. It is boarded up now. The trailhead is right behind the station. Of course we were the only car there. It was about 8:40 am when we started up the trail. Blue sky overhead but a little chilly at first. There were some wildflowers blooming at the beginning. The show improved as we gained elevation. Much better than I was expecting.

There were old pink and purple trillium next to bright white ones. Oodles of yellow violets. False Solomon's seal were in bloom. We passed a few very large trees. My last visit in 2006 was right after the big fire. There was a lot of soot and the smell of a burned forest. Eight years had done quite a job. The snags were more silvered and the black ground was now covered in grass. The now open sections had the best wildflower show of the day. It seemed that all the balsamroot were right at their peak. Add in some lupine, woodland stars, and both red and orange Indian paintbrush and it was very colorful. We also saw ballhead waterleaf in a number of places.

The big creek and waterfall were very pretty. The morning chill went away very fast. It was quickly time to stop and put on a short sleeve shirt and zip off my pants legs. I hope a sawing crew can get out to this trail soon. There were 30 to 40 trees down across the trail. Some were easy step overs. Others were more difficult to get over or under. Some had trails cut around them. None of this trail is in wilderness and a chainsaw crew could probably clean it up in a day or two. All the obstacles were annoying but not all that difficult to get around. The bigger problem is all the erosion where tracks cut up or down the slope to get around. We did manage to hurl one short thick and thoroughly rotted log off of a switchback and cover the temporary boot path around it.

It was warm enough that I was glad to get back into the cooler forest. We reached the old road and turned left for a long switchback. Numerous logs down here. First we saw some glacier lily seed pods. Then we saw the flowers. There were a number of patches in bloom. For what is such a dry trail in the summer, there was a lot of water running this day. A switchback to the right and we then left the road on trail. Now the route gets down to business. This trail gains 4000' in about four miles.  That's a pretty steep grade. Much of the gain is in the last two miles. There are many short switchbacks as the trail climbs a broad ridge. We only saw a minimal number of them.

At about 4400' we had a few snow patches. By 4500' the trail was mostly covered in thin snow. I saw one set of recent downhill tracks in the snow. I followed them as they turned more or less straight uphill. Occasionally we would cut across bare dirt of the trail then back on snow. As the slope steepened, we found some bare dirt sections between the snow. In one place I sank down to dirt and boulders. Not much fun to get through that. by 4800' the snow was deep enough to just kick firm steps. We found the tracks again and just followed them up. I booted it up though I pulled out my axe for the descent. Janet did a hike the day before and she held up well as the elevation mounted.

One last steep section and we reached the ridge top just 100' below the summit. Although our pace was slow and steady with a lot of photo stops nobody caught up with us. Total solitude on the mountain. The lookout site is not the real summit of Dirty Face. There is no trail to that peak. The lookout site does provide a flat 360 degree view from 5989'. Lake Wenatchee sits right below. Fish Lake is also in sight. We could see all the peaks up the Chiwawa Valley. Mt. Maude was easy to pick out. Glacier Peak was peaking out from behind Dirty Face's middle summit. To the south we could see Stuart and Daniel as well as the Chiwaukum peaks. This is an unusual angle and many peaks just did not look familiar. Still plenty of snow up high to brighten up the view. It was past 12:30 pm and we were starved. There was a light cool breeze and a jacket was in order.

All too soon it was time to head down. The snow was soft enough to provide good solid steps on the steep sections. We had more trouble post holing in the thin snow down lower. Breaking through on a slope of down logs and rocks with voids was tedious. We saw a dog and then a person at some distance. We never were close enough to talk. Once back on dirt the going was much easier. The down logs were still annoying. We took lots of time photographing the wildflowers again. Two hikers passed up heading up. That concluded the three people we saw all day. Yet another day with near total solitude on what is a popular trail.

We took one short detour over to the base of the waterfall. It provided a much better view than I was expecting. Lots of lupine and balsamroot there too. Contrary to the forecast, clouds built during the day. That was not all bad as it was much cooler in the open burned sections. We made it back to the trailhead at 4:30 pm. There were a few flies and mosquitoes Not enough to be bothersome but a harbinger of what is coming soon. To top off the day we had more traffic going home but it was at the speed limit. We even caught all the lights in Sultan. A very unusual drive home on Highway 2 on a late Sunday afternoon.

This was even a better trip than I was expecting. Easily the best flower display I have seen on this trail. Blue sky most of the day and warm but comfortable temperatures. Other than the down trees the trail is in great shape. The 1500' of snow travel made this a fun snow scramble. Janet logged nearly 6000' of elevation gain this weekend and I'm happy with my 4000'. The next month should be full of wildflower and snow scramble trip opportunities.

Tree Hugger
New & Old Trillium
Reddish Trillium
Yellow Violet
Two Balsamroot
Indian Paintbrush
Janet At Work
Nice Backlighting
Silver Snags
Over The Falls
Buncha Balsamroot
Through The Garden
Down Log
Obstacle Course
Male Grouse
Glacier Lily
Snow Begins
Getting Deeper
Climbing Higher
Solid Snow Cover
Grade Eases
High Above Lake
View South
On Final Ridge
Summit Is In Sight
Looking North
Dirty Face Summit
Summit Ridge
Weather Station
Howard & Rock
Mt. Maude
Starting Down
Easy At First
Steeper Spot
Perfect Trillium
Trillium Patch
Messed Up Trail
Colorful Meadow
More Balsamroot
At Their Peak

Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2014